Politics

House GOP Introduces Zika Funding Bill

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers introduced a $622.1 million Zika funding bill Monday, a number far below the $1.9 billion House Democrats asked for in their bill introduced in April.

The legislation – aimed at treating and preventing the spread of the mosquito-borne virus both domestically and abroad – is fully paid for through existing funds and would be available to use immediately over the course of the next five months.

“This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately, such as vaccine development and mosquito control,” Rogers said in a statement. “The legislation funds these efforts in a responsible way, using existing resources – including excess funding left over from the Ebola outbreak – to pay for it.”

The funds would be allocated to a number of different agencies to deal with the crisis, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receiving $170 million to be used primarily for mosquito control efforts, response and prevention efforts and education.

The National Institutes of Health would be given $230 million, largely for the development of vaccines; the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority would be given $103 million for research and development.

The Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development would be provided with $119.1 million for global health programs and operations. The Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General of Health and Human Services (HHS) and United States Agency for International Development would also be granted $2 million to be used toward oversight.

The agencies would be required to submit spending plans to Congress under the legislation.

The bill would repurpose roughly $352.1 million from the Ebola outbreak in 2014 while $270 million would come from unused HHS administrative funding.

Zika has been linked with serious birth defects and was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization earlier this year.

The $1.9 billion bill backed by the White House is expected to be voted on this week in the House while the upper chamber is also slated to vote on a $1.1 billion funding measure in coming days.

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Juliegrace Brufke